Thousands of personal care items are free from sales taxes in many states. These products include shampoo and lip balm, and even Viagra. But feminine hygiene products have been noticeably missing in all but 9 states. 7 more states, though, are moving to eliminate the taxes.
Of the 7 states that have introduced legislation to eliminate the so-called pink tax, three of them have done so this year, including Virginia, Arizona and Nebraska.
Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, who is the author of Periods Gone Public, says that pink taxes discriminate against more than half the population, and that they are just one example of how women pay a premium for many products. She has teamed up with a lawyer named Laura Strausfeld to form Period Equity, which is an organization that supports legislation across the country to end pink taxes. It also takes on legal cases.
Recently, the organization worked with celebrity Amber Rose on a public service advertisement that was featured on YouTube. In the ad, Rose chastises the fact that, in 36 states, feminine hygiene products are essentially considered a luxury.
Of the states that have gotten rid of pink taxes — New York, Minnesota, Illinois, Florida Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland and Connecticut — four of them — Connecticut, New York, Florida and Illinois — have done so in the last few years.
One company is also trying to raise awareness of the issue. Boxed, which is an online shopping business, has come up with an initiative it calls #RethinkPink. As part of the initiative, the company offers discounts on feminine hygiene products to offset the pink taxes.
Nitasha Mehta, who is the head of vendor marketing for Boxed, lobbies states across the country to change the laws, and she has testified in support of bills aiming to end pink taxes. She says that she sees a trend starting to occur.
Brigid Kelly, who is a Democratic state legislator in Ohio, has been steadily moving a bill through the Republican controlled legislature that would eliminate pink taxes. She says that she is pleased that they are doing something practical to make hygiene products more accessible to women in her community.
Though similar bills have failed elsewhere. The state of California passed a bill that would have eliminated pink taxes, but Governor Jerry Brown vetoed it because he said that it would cost the state too much revenue.